Minecraft is a game of efficiency, and understanding how to maximize your time usage is essential. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your hour.
Grinding tends to be the most time consuming activity in Minecraft, so learning how to set up farms for food, experience, or blocks is essential. Almost everything in the game can be set up to be fully or partially automatic, and investing a bit of time towards learning some of these systems is crucial towards saving the maximum amount of time.
Using beds properly is also important. First off, you should always carry a bed with you, as trekking back to your house during longer journeys simply isn’t practical. Second, sleeping during every nighttime is vital. Night spawns mobs, and mobs serve only to slow you down. The more time you spend in daylight, the faster your overworld treks will go. Just be careful not to die when the bed is in your inventory, or you will not respawn back at your house.
Cave navigation can get tricky, and once mine shafts and intersections are discovered, navigation becomes nearly impossible without a visual cue. A popular trick is to place torches along the right side of the wall when walking away from an entrance, and on the left side of the wall when walking towards it. That way, so long as torches are to your left, you are approaching an exit. For aboveground travel, try building a large tower near your home and lining it with torches. When it comes time to come home, get on the largest hill you can find, wait till night time, and keep your eyes out for your tower of torches. Setting up a wool pattern for navigation can help you find familiar territory and regain your bearings.
Later on, when wood usage increases, bonemeal becomes the primary source of wood. Simply place a sapling on the ground, equip some bonemeal, and use it on the sapling a few times. It should grow into a full tree instantly. Since bonemeal is in heavy supply, and wood is a very slow-growing resource, this strategy is vital towards keeping your wood stocks high.
Furnaces should be built en masse. Later on, when smelting iron or turning cobblestone into full stone bricks, more furnaces will be needed in order to complete the job in a timely manner. This isn’t a problem as the only resource needed for a furnace is stone, so they are quite cheap to make.
There is no reason to use iron tools when you can use diamond instead. Diamond is best spent on pickaxes, as it speeds up your mining time allowing you to reach more diamond even sooner. Iron armor and weapons do just fine; save your full set of diamond gear for when you have a surplus.
Leave the bottom stump of a tree for last when harvesting wood. You can use it to reach even higher up a tall tree, just maybe helping you get that last piece of wood. If you still aren’t high enough, just drop a block of wood below you and cut both stumps down last.